Love & Sacrifice - Sylvan LaCue

from the album Apologies In Advance (2018)

Can we talk about rap?

I usually avoid the subject, not wanting to be "that" guy; the Archie Bunker sounding mother-fucker talking trash about something he doesn't understand.  But you know what, I am NOT that guy.  I am a guy who absolutely loves music.  I am a guy who takes the time to appreciate and understand an artist's point of view.  I'm a guy who has spent a lifetime listening to hundreds of thousands of songs, dissecting them, and soul searching about what it is that I like - or dislike - about each of them, based on their merits.

And sadly, I have also been a guy who avoids the subject of rap.  Shame on me.

I first began listening to rap nearly four decades ago, smokin' dope in the basement of Mikey Mel's mother's house on Long Island.  We'd play twelve-inchers by Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, and Spoonie Gee.  I could rap every word to every song.  These guys were included in my early mixtapes, interwound with The Clash and Talking Heads.  It wasn't black or white, it was just good music.

I loved the beats, the near childish sense of melody, and - above all - the lyrical high-wire act.  I also loved the point of view, the storytelling, and its fresh perspective - one that I had never experienced, but somehow understood.

Then, somewhere along the way, rap changed for me.  The connection was lost.  Was it me, or was it rap?  I am pretty certain it was rap; more specifically, the business of rap.

Rap started to seem disingenuous to me.  Hype disguised as rage.  For every artist with a point of view, there were six hundred posers, rapping shit that had no soul, differentiating themselves by pushing the anger envelope, spewing violent bilge that had no foundation.  Wilding with words.  Amplifying anarchy.  Meanwhile, the art became lost in the noise.

Yet, as a white guy, if you said these things you were dismissed as some racist mother-fucker.  I didn't want that, so I kept silent.

The band that turned me around and caused me to return to rap was Outkast.  The song Ms. Jackson was pure perfection.  Beat, melody, and incredible lyrics.  There was no hype, just honesty.  A guy standing up and declaring he was gonna do right by his girl.  It is the best song of this millennium.

Since then, the rap business has only gotten bigger, and more contrived.  Just like country music.  Empire and Nashville are the same show.

So, I suppose my primary point is this:  Most of the rap music I hear sucks.  I do not believe that this feeling is due to my shortcomings, but rather it is due to the shortcomings of the music, its producers, and those who peddle style over substance.

Fuck the "moguls" who sell us Ring Dings and Yodels.  There is no nourishment in that crap.

Which brings me to the song Love & Sacrifice by Sylvan LaCue.  I dig this song.  The beat bounces.  There is beauty in the melody of the rap and how it interplays with the backing vocals and synthesizers.  The arrangement is strong.  The lyrics are thoughtful, about sacrificing for those you love.  This song connects me with the artist rather than drive me away.

My secondary point is this:  Don't give up on rap, but rather seek out artists with real talent and a point of view.  They are out there.  Beat the weeds and fight the power.

Click Here to listen to Love & Sacrifice by Sylvan LaCue.

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